Steelheart at Club Red, Tempe AZ

Steelheart performing at Club Red in Tempe, Arizona.

Steelheart at Club Red

Even more intense than I had any right to expect, Steelheart put on a show of positively EPIC proportions.  Featuring a wide mix of music from their debut release Steelheart (1990) to their latest Good 2b Alive (2008), the entire show was one amazing journey through time and sonic-space… culminating in the the most memorable audience sing-along I have ever experienced.


Miljenko Matijevic of Steelheart

Perhaps most notable in this performance was the vocal ability of Miljenko Matijevic.  His performance for this show was absolutely AMAZING, still showing the incredible range and intense falsetto that he and the Steelheart name have become famous for.  Engaging, gracious and incredibly energetic, Miljenko had the audience in the palm of his hand from the opening lyrics, never releasing them until the final encore.


Chris Risola of Steelheart

Lighting was challenging, and the overall light design for Steelheart’s headlining performance metered over one stop lower than the opening acts, with noticeably less dramatic colored backlighting.  Further challenges included the near-capacity-audience.  Club Red does not have a barricade or pit-area to separate the audience from the front of the stage — photographing such a popular artist at that venue can be quite challenging.  I had a position just slightly stage-left of center at the beginning of the set, which allowed me a great vantage point for this closeup of lead guitarist Chris Risola, but I quickly found myself trapped and actually being crushed by the audience behind and beside me.  I made a tentative getaway toward the wings, and worked my way back and forth the back of the house to the front corners, utilizing my 70-200/2.8 more often than my wider 17-55/2.8 or 50/1.8.


Rev Jones of Steelheart

While I knew what to expect from Steelheart’s lead singer, I had never seen bassist Rev Jones in concert before.  I was AMAZED.  Truly, beyond words.  I will say simply that you must see Rev in concert to believe it.  The same elements which made him so entertaining as he was to watch — his personality, speed and incredible technical skill — made him equally difficult to photograph.  I managed to capture only a few frames where Rev’s fingers are not an unintelligible blur across the fretboard.


Mike Humbert of Steelheart

Don’t Forget The Drummer,” I heard the virtual-voice of photographer Todd Owyoung whispering in my ear.  Mike Humbert put on an AMAZING show of his own, tucked in behind an impressive and looming drum set.  This configuration is always hard to photograph without the typical “sea of cymbals,” but patience and persistence paid off.  This may indeed be my favorite drummer photograph I have taken to date.  The vantage point I positioned myself in to take this photo will remain a close-guarded secret — and I fully expect that while there were a dozen other shooters at this show, I have exclusive images from this position.  Without giving away my secrets, I’ll simply say — yes, I received permission from security; no, I wasn’t on stage; and no, I was not visible to the audience or even the artists on stage.  Knowing the venue (and security) pays off, as does knowing when to keep that 70-200/2.8 ready to shoot.



In summary:

  • An incredible band
  • An incredible show
  • An incredible night

What more can you ask for?

A very special thanks to Angela.



Official Website:

Band Members:

Miljenko Matijevic – lead vocals, rhythm guitar, acoustic guitar, piano
Chris Risola – lead guitar
Rev Jones – bass
Mike Humbert – drums

Set list:

  • Blood Pollution – Rockstar (2001)
  • Gimmie Gimmie – Steelheart (1990)
  • Like Never Before – Steelheart (1990)
  • Cabernet – Wait (1996)
  • Buried Unkind – Just a Taste (2006) / Good 2b Alive (2008)
  • Samurai – Good 2b Alive (2008)
  • We All Die Young – Wait (1996) / Just a Taste (2006)
  • Everybody Loves Eileen – Steelheart (1990)
  • LOL (Laughing Out Loud) – Just a Taste (2006) / Good 2b Alive (2008)


  • Stand Up and Shout – Rockstar (2001)
  • I’ll Never Let You Go (Angel Eyes) – Steelheart (1990)



Blood From Stone at Club Red, Tempe AZ

Blood From Stone performing at Club Red in Tempe, Arizona.


Blood From Stone at Club Red



J. Blackstone of Blood From Stone



Slate of Blood From Stone




Justin Knight of Blood From Stone


Band Members

J. Blackstone – vocals / guitar
Slate – bass
Justin Knight – drums

Saying Goodbye to my Dearest Friend

It’s hard to express or explain how profound an impact pets and companion animals have on our lives.  If you have (or have had) one or more pets, you understand.  There is an unspoken bond, something that transcends human relationships.  Unconditional love and uncontainable joy.  Many pet owners, myself included, even prefer our relationships with animals over those with humans.  Our pets are special.  Humans can be a real pain in the ass.

This past weekend, I had to say goodbye to my constant companion and dearest friend — Daisy.

The loss came without warning or time to prepare — she was here one moment and gone the next.  Myself, my wife Nicole and the staff of First Emergency Pet Care did everything we could to save her, but she was gone.  Working full-time from home as I do makes the loss even more obvious — Daisy was my constant companion in my day-to-day activities, and without her here, the day-to-day is very different.

She also leaves behind her sister, Scout, who I am sure misses her even more than I.

Faced with the immediate question, “Now what?” I turned to my photography.  I decided to make a slideshow to celebrate Daisy’s life, and to remind us of the great memories we have of our girl.  Daisy was a regular subject for me — sometimes more willing than others.  I was not entirely surprised when I pulled the keyword totals from Lightroom — looking at my own private collection of photographs (while it does not rival my commerical/work photos collections, my personal work still numbers in the 10s of thousands), I found that photographs tagged with “daisy” or “scout” made up nearly 1/3 of my photographs.  My wife and I culled through the photos and videos of Daisy, selecting our favorites for inclusion in the show.

For music, I knew right away I would go to Kevin MacLeod.  I’ve used Kevin’s compositions before in both slideshow presentation as well as theatrical sound designs; his work never disappoints and you can’t beat the prices for his royalty-free music selections.  I cannot thank Kevin enough for his contribution, and encourage you to review his work if you need music for your own slideshows or similar projects.  At the time, I was personally too upset and distraught to even listen to selections, and thankfully my wife was willing to dive into Kevin’s music site and we both agreed the selection “Eternal Hope” was a perfect choice — both melodically and the title itself.

For those so interested, here is some of the technical background on this show:

  • The actual slideshow was constructed in Photodex ProShow Producer 4.1.
  • Images and videos were managed in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3.3.
  • Physical prints (several of the first photos in the show, of Daisy as a kitten) were scanned in via my HP C7180 into Adobe Photoshop CS5.
  • Images and videos were custom ordered in an LR collection, then exported as 100% quality jpgs, sRGB, constraigned to 1920×1080 (final desired output being 1080p), using a custom sequence index to keep the exported files in custom order.  I prefer using a native LR export rather than the Photodex LR plugin since it provides more control over the arrangement, naming and location of the exported images.
  • The slideshow was constructed very “basic” in nature — no fancy transitions or movements; I wanted to stay with simple cross-fades and focus on the images and memories they evoke, not create yet-another-slide-show-feature-demo, which (in my personal opinion) are all-too prevalent with modern slideshows.
  • I quickly realized I didn’t have enough music with Kevin’s basic track, so (pursuant to the editing allowed in Kevin’s music license) I did a couple of simple edits in Adobe Audition to loop two verses of the track to pad out time.  This gave me just enough time to keep the transitions a reasonable time, but not make the music feel overly repetitive.
  • Opening and closing text/credits were done with ProShow captions, using keyframes and opacity adjustments to fade them in and out at the desired times.
  • Final export was done from the ProShow youtube export utility with the 1080p (best quality) setting.  Due to the size of the video file (nearly 1 GB), I saved the video directly to my local storage and uploaded it separately rather than attempt the upload from ProShow itself.  The upload took over 2 hours, and the “processing time” for youtube to make the video available took over 12 hours.

Making this slideshow, I realized how much Daisy was my “go-to” model for new photo equipment —

The photo above (1:10 in the slideshow) is the very first image I recorded on my first professional DSLR camera.

This photo (1:23) is the first image I recorded with my 70-200/2.8 Nikkor (my favorite lens and arguably the best glass I own) — I used it first to photograph my Daisy-girl.

Reviewing other selections, I noticed that in almost every case of purchasing a new light, modifier or other gadget — the first photos were of Daisy and/or her sister, Scout.

This image (7:24), a closeup of Daisy laying in some of my laundry, is one of a small impromptu photoshoot I did with her which turned out to be the last photos recorded of her.

After the slideshow was almost complete, I had to download a short video I made with a small handheld video recorder (a modded Kodak Zi8).  Very much to my surprise there were two earlier videos still on the memory card — I had completely forgetton I had recorded them.  One featured a brief interaction with Daisy, and I realized that video was the last recording I had of my friend.  Unwilling to remove any other images from the slideshow (squeezing the video into the original presentation would require either additional editing to the music or bumping some images to make up the time) — I tagged the video on to the very end of the show, which seemed to be a fitting and appropriate bookend for the presentation.

The DPChallenge entry referred to in the slideshow is this one: Stars In Her Eyes.  DPChallenge is a weekly photography contest that exists simply for the sake of having a weekly contest.  I’m not as active there I was once might have been, but it’s a great place to visit for inspiration or a method for “self-assignment” if you’re feeling burnt out or bored with your current photography.  I’ve self-assigned many more challenges there than I have actually entered; even if you don’t enter the contests each week, it’s a fun site to visit and another way to keep yourself from becoming completely bogged down in the more mindless commercial shooting that actually pays the bills.

The final slideshow is embedded below.  I recommend viewing full-screen at one of the HD modes (720p or even 1080p if your display and bandwidth supports it); the original upload is 1080p.  Turn up your speakers or headphones, because there is music and audio with the embedded videos that you don’t want to miss.

If you have problems with the embedded player below, here are links to the default quality video as well as the HD quality versions.

Update: You can also read more of the story of how Scout and Daisy came into our lives at my wife’s blog.

Monsoon Season 2010

Finally, 2010’s monsoon season is upon us here in the Arizona desert.  Saw an INCREDIBLE storm driving home two nights ago, but by the time I was home and could run up to the roof with the camera (yes, I go up on the roof of my house during lightning storms)… the storm had moved off to the East, and I got only a handful of very disappointing shots.  Tonight, a very fast-moving storm came through — this time actually moving West.  I missed the chance to pick up any shots with the Superstitions in the foreground, but did pick up a few shots as the storm skated by to the North, heading West.

See my flickr set “Lightning” for more photos throughout the season.

(select for larger version)

Boycott Diamondbacks – Protest at Chase Field

Photos from protest — On May 20, 2010, demonstrators gathered at Chase Field (Bank One Ballpark) to protest the Arizona Diamondbacks’ open support of SB1070.  The protest included a choreographed dance, call-and-respond chants and a picket line.

This is one of series of demonstrations protesters have held at Diamondback games over the past month.

Photos available in flickr set “Boycott Diamondbacks – May 20, 2010,” with larger versions available for viewing below.

Boycott Diamondbacks
(select image for gallery view)